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You know, it’s time I turned the Christmas lights off for good. They’re in the backyard; very festive. But this is not the festive time. This is the time of putting your head down and enduring it, and these lights, however merry, encourage weakness and soft-hearted thoughts. I’ll be right back.

There. That was very satisfying. Let darkness reign!

So there’s an election in Iraq soon, I understand. I haven’t been writing about this here because I’m just taking the long, long view, and haven’t the time or inclination to argue with people who think “No WMD!” is the argument equivalent of a spreading a full house on the green felt table. It may seem so, but unfortunately we’re playing chess. However the election goes will be one thing; how it’s reported is another. The thing to watch is the position of the Damning But, the old DB. The DB will probably bob up in the first or second paragraphs of most dispatches. “The election went as planned in 95 percent of the country, but violence marred polling in the disputed Sunny D Triangle, where insurgents opposed to Tropicana Juice fired automatic weapons into an juice concentrate factory.” That’s one spin. “The election, long anticipated as a flashpoint for insurgent activity, went off with few delays. Despite sporadic gunfire marred the overall mood of success in several provinces, observers said that the process was ‘smooth as a Sade groove,’ adding that they were annoyed Sade had simply faded away instead of letting her career end with a tasteful layout in Playboy.” See? No DB there. We’ll see.

What the hell?

I bought some, because it seemed unlikely that so many flavors could be jammed into one receptacle without creating some new uberflavor that opened new dimensions and let through the howling minions of hell. It’s as if they didn’t know when to stop. Cherry is no strangers to cohabitation with other flavors; vanilla has a new role as an ingredient adjunct for Coke. Cherry Vanilla sounds like the name of a 60s model who worked with Warhol. Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper throws it all up in the air – literally, perhaps – when you consider that Dr Pepper itself is the flavor that cannot be readily identified, but you wouldn’t be surprised if it’s prunes. Any additional flavor will simply smother the Pepper flavor. It’s like Cherry Vanilla coffee. No one ever takes a sip and says “boy, you can really taste the coffee.”

The inventors and marketers deserve the chastening, enthusiasm-deflating Perry Head.

And that goes double for anyone thinking of Lemon Grape Mr. Pibb.

Gnat woke me up. Daddy, I have a nosebleed but it’s stopped, okay?


Wake up!

Okay. Fine. What time is it? Good Lord, it’s ten. How long have you been up?

Since four eight?

Did you say you had a nosebleed?

Uh huh, but it’s all better. Let’s go have some maple sausages!

We did, but only half a ration, since lunch was right around the corner. Afterwards she played with Mr. Potato Head, and I ran upstairs to straighten up before we left. Make the bed, check. Quick dust, check. Straighten towels, check. Align bathmat so its edges are perfectly arranged to match the pattern of the floor tiles: check. Note the huge quantity of blood in Gnat’s bathroom: check. Wait a minute – oh, right. What had she done here? It looked like she’d taped her mouth shut and sneezed six times. We’re talking cherry-bomb-in-a-lasagna-dish here. So I clean this up. Ironing, lunch, off to school.

Herewith Gnat’s reactions to the iPod Elvis Costello playlist as we drove to school: No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

How about this one?

No. Play the Powerpuff Gulls song or Happy Feet.

She had a point. I had some new Costello, which isn’t bad – it just isn’t very interesting. I suppose this makes me one of those fans who’s not willing to follow the artist in a new direction, but I’ve never believed that you have to trot after your favorites no matter where they go. In the case of Costello, well, he’s been pushing the same cold loaf of meat through the mid-tempo grinder for too many years, and even when he gets back to his “roots” – under-produced stuff with thrashing drums and reasonably coherent melodies – it’s just a reminder of how satisfying his stuff used to be right away.

"Yeah that one, play that one."

It was Kraftwerk. Bless her heart.

Corrections and amplifications: thanks to all who wrote in to remind me that Bush was throwing the horns to indicate obeisance to a football team, not the Lord of the Flies. I should have noted that. 2. Re yesterday’s Joe: it turns out that chili sauce on spaghetti is a Cleveland delicacy. Oy; The things I do not know, but learn every day. 3. Some noted that the Simpsons line I discussed yesterday was meant to show the narrow-mindedness of the speaker; perhaps. But it had no context, unless this character regularly says stupid things of this nature, and I missed the episodes where they delineated her attributes in rich & generous detail. In any case, you still couldn’t get away saying that about any other group, except Mormons.

Friday morning I have to be Helper Mom at Gnat’s lunch school, and as I have noted before I enjoy this almost slightly less than having railroad spikes hammered up my urethra. Well, in concept, anyway. Once I’m there it’s fun, and goes fast – but it makes Friday a clusterfarg of great dimensions. It also means that Friday night is sweet beyond compare, because I’ve really put in a day. Now I have to finish a column a day ahead of schedule and file by midnight: I’m off. Have a dandy weekend, and thanks to all the new readers – just got my bandwidth overage charge. I must be doing something right. What, I haven’t a clue.